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You are here: Home > Illustrations > Karoo / Rapids / Buys

Book cover illustration: "Karoo"

Client: Human & Rousseau Publishers

"Op die Wye Oop Karoo", a collection of short stories by Abraham De Vries, a well-known South African writer, was published in 2002. The title translates as "On the Wide, Open Karoo". The Karoo is a large semi-desert area, a place with character.

The book cover illustration was absurd, in a similar style to the "Buys" cover, reflecting the hilarious situations often described in the short stories. Design-wise, the colours and fonts were chosen for the retro feel it lent to the cover. De Vries' readers are characteristically of the older Afrikaans generation and the style reminds one of a time gone past.

We also tried to continue the theme and style on the back cover. Have a look >


Book cover illustration: "Rapids," compiled by Linda Rode*

Client: Kwela Books

The Kwela Books brief was: Design a book cover for the sequel to the original compilation of new indigenous South African stories by youngsters.

The title "In the Rapids – New South African Stories" was also available in Afrikaans as "Stroomversnelling – Nuwe Suid-Afrikaanse Stories".

The previous book in the series had a traditional linocut on the cover with a red, white and black colour scheme in the design. We tried to steer clear of that style (often used by workers' unions), because we thought it might be condescending towards blacks. How would I – as an Afrikaner – feel if marketers target me by using images of ox wagons?

As it is, this book was aimed at all races and cultures and luckily we had free reign with the design, but also a very limited budget, i.e. we could not afford to spend time on intricately detailed illustrations. We used an abstract image for the background (actually, it's a close-up of running water, colour casted and given a 'movement blur' for effect).

The yellow and black pattern on the sides were reminiscent of warning signs used for roadworks, indicating change and the inherent 'rapids' of the cultural, political, economic and social river of change in South Africa which is so often referred to in these stories. These patterns were also common in 90's club culture and merely hinted at the African tradition of using patterns on pottery, walls and fabric.

The 'grungy' style of the typeface used for the title was popular in Western teenage pop culture at the time.

The book was compiled by editor Linda Rode* (by pure coincidence, she's Konrad's mother) and Jakes Gerwel (ex-rector of UWC and advisor to ex-president Nelson Mandela). Konrad worked with editor Erika Oosthuyzen of Kwela.

See the full book covers >


Book cover illustration: "Buys"

Client: Tafelberg Publishers

Published in 1999, "Buys" by Arnold Vermaak was an absurd novel aimed at Afrikaans teenagers. Tafelberg Publishers commissioned the work, wanting a more modern book cover illustration than the tried and tested traditional ones typical of Afrikaans novels.

The composition would not be possible without editor Suzette Kotzé ( ) of Verbatim, who for all practical purposes was the art director.

By the way, that goldfish on the back cover was scanned, but the fish bowl & water were digitally created, way back when plug-ins weren't really available to help with that kind of thing. Some day we might work in true 3D.

Full cover illustration here >


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* Linda's family is very proud of her – she has now won the M.E.R. Prize twice as well the Alba Bouwer Prize and C.P. Hoogenhout Prize! She's insanely dedicated to her work as an editor and has spent many nights working till dawn to meet deadlines.

She specialises in children's books and in the case of teen or adult books sometimes ends up practically rewriting them instead of simply being "the editor" – authenticity is very important to her, and Konrad often gets a phone call about some or other detail he might know, being in a younger generation. More about Linda Rode >


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